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From Building a Megachurch to Making Disciples: A Journey towards Spiritual Maturity

John B. Gorin

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Abstract

Through the application of a biblical model of discipleship in a small group format, this project seeks to further the spiritual maturity of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship (hereafter, ALCF), an evangelical multicultural church. In recent years, various church crises and splits have raised many questions at ALCF, including its discipleship efforts. The primary consideration now is how we can blend specific discipleship values with our own calling as a mid-sized church in the Silicon Valley.

Part One of this project details the context and ministry challenge facing ALCF in this time. Chapter 1 provides the community context in which ALCF exists by looking at the social and spiritual demographics of Silicon Valley. Chapter 2 describes the ministry challenges, beginning with an overview of ALCF’s “spiritual DNA” followed by the way successive leadership failures have revealed the need and priority for deeper spiritual maturity through intentional discipleship.

Part Two provides the theological foundations for the subsequent ministry strategy by reviewing the relevant literature that speaks to vision, content, and forms for discipleship (Chapter 3), while Chapter 4 examines the ecclesiological context and background of ALCF that informs and shapes what discipleship looks like in context. Chapter 5 provides biblical and theological reflection to show discipleship’s priority in Scripture and its praxis, specifically the necessity of discipleship done in community.

Part Three presents a ministry strategy for deeper discipleship at ALCF. Using the concepts presented in Part Two, Chapter 6 presents a model for small group discipleship that specifies the vision, content, and form that is relevant to ALCF. Chapter 7 moves this model to reality by presenting a two-phase process: 1) an initial phase of pilot groups lead by elders and pastors, and 2) the next phase of small groups led by lay leaders, with survey-based evaluations following each phase.